Purchasing this classic beauty was a whirlwind. Luckily we both agreed we absolutely loved the old school double ender sailboats with bowsprits. Something about that bowsprit makes us both dream of jumping into turquoise waters from its tip. We also rationalized our illogical romanticism with the reality that we are not expert sailors by any means so a heavy displacement full keel boat, while not the fastest and best to wind, will provide a safety cushion for our sailing mistakes. We did end up looking at a Tayana 37 pretty seriously and had an accepted offer. Luckily, we enlisted two professional surveyors. Their conclusion was the same. “I’d rather have $40,000 in my jeans than in that boat any day”. We were crushed. Our first love was a lemon. Again Bob Perry dropped a gem on us: “If your only problem in life is that you can’t buy the yacht you want, you have it pretty good!”
Shortly after, we saw Leela for sale through a broker in Victoria. We contacted the broker and arranged for a tour of the boat later that weekend. Getting to Victoria is a bit of a trek from Vancouver as one needs to drive from downtown to the ferry and take a 1.5-hour ferry to the Island. Once there it’s still a 45 min drive to the marina where Leela was moored. In order to hedge our bets that we would like the Union 36 as a boat, Emmanuel dashed down to Bellingham to view another project Union 36 for sale. Emmanuel came back with a love for the boat in general but the realization that he could not stand up fully in the boat. Emmanuel is 6’3″ and crumbs and this boat was too short. Followed some deep soul searching days, could Emmanuel live in a boat in which he couldn’t stand tall? When we finally visited Leela, she was beautiful, well taken care of and best of all, there was at least 2″-3″ more headroom in the boat! How can this be? Same boat, same yard, different headroom. We were sold.
On Ferry ride to Victoria to pick up our new boat!
We put an offer on the boat then and there. Negotiations for the purchase happened while we travelled to Burning Man. A month later we took possession of the boat and we showed up with a bottle of bubbly to celebrate the transfer of ownership. So began a friendship with the previous owner, Peter Green. We signed all paperwork on Friday afternoon and the plan was to sail the boat back to Vancouver over the weekend. We enlisted the help of a special crew of friends: fellow Black Knight John Nichols, Emmanuel’s old-time Montreal friend Francois Beaudoin who was in town for a conference and Emmanuel’s great Matie Mike Liverton.
The weather had been terrible all week and cleared just for the weekend to allow us the most beautiful sun filled sailing days. We saw a whale on Saturday, drank many Gin & Tonics and partied a little too much at anchor on Saturday night. FrankiB and Mike had never seen phosphorescence so that made for some pretty epic visuals and good times. Sunday was the big crossing across the Georgia Straight and Emmanuel, fresh as a rose from the previous night’s antics, was even generous enough to feed the fish. We aimed for Wreck Beach where we anchored for a few hours and enjoyed a late September swim in the Ocean. It was a beautiful moment to round Pt. Grey and see Vancouver shimmering in the sun aboard our very own ocean voyaging capable boat! We anchored in False Creek where the boat spent the next month or so.